Number : Season 25, serial 2 of 4.
Which One : Evil Bertie Basset!
Cast : The Doctor : Sylvester McCoy
Ace : Sophie Aldred
Helen A : Sheila Hancock
Joseph C : Ronald Fraser
Daisy K : Georgina Hale
Gilbert M : Harold Innocent
Susan Q : Lesley Dunlop
Priscilla P : Rachel Bell
Silas P : Jonathan Burn
Harold V : Tim Barker
Kandy Man : David John Pope
Trevor Sigma : John Normington
Earl Sigma : Richard D. Sharp
Forum Doorman : Tim Scott
Killjoy : Mary Healey
Snipers : Steve Swinscoe, Mark Carroll
Wences : Philip Neve
Wulfric : Ryan Freedman
Newscaster : Annie Hulley
Written By : Graeme Curry
Produced By : JNT
First UK Broadcast : 2 – 16 November 1988
Length : 3 x 25 minute episodes.
Plot : The Doctor and Ace, visit the planet of Terra Alpha and experience the enforced fun and happiness of its despotic ruler; Helen A.
Whats good : Unintentionally funny. Some attempt at a ‘Maggie Thatcher’ – influenced political satire. The Tardis gets spray painted pink.
Whats bad : The Kandyman – marked a low point in the show. Is cited as one of the [many] reasons Who was eventually cancelled.
Review With Spoilers : The Happiness Patrol is the second episode of season 25 – and punctuates a strong season, of anniversary stories; by being a completely bad egg.
It is easy to hate The Happiness Patrol, as a low point in Who history. There is some serious thought behind it’s intended origins, though; which were an attempt to write a cutting parody of Thatcher’s Britain.
The problem with The Happiness Patrol, is in it’s execution. The performances are pure pantomime, the humour forced – and it really has no place; amongst the showcase anniversary 25th season.
This brings us to the very embodiment, of what is also wrong with The Happiness Patrol; the Kandyman.
The drooling, homicidal – ‘Bertie Basset’ – executioner for Helen A, is bizarre and in the same token; the most ridiculous monster – ever featured in Doctor Who.
At times, it is like watching a homicidal Mr Blobby running around the set of Noel’s House Party, except in this; the contestants get gunged – to death.
“Definitely. Something very nasty’s happening here, and we’ve got to put a stop to it, quickly!” The Doctor
Bassett sweets were less than amused and after threatening the BBC, the Kandyman was consigned to the sweet bin – with an agreement never to return.
It wasn’t just the Kandyman, though; founding producer Verity Lamb said that this was the serial, that firmed her own view – that 80’s Who had become an “irreverant pantomime” and “pale imitation of its 60s and 70s – glory years”.
The Happiness Patrol is frequently featured, in polls for the worst ever Who, worst sci-fi, or even the worst moments on TV. It’s not a legacy you really want attached to a show – with such a rich legacy.
What was even more bizarre was; McCoy’s definite worst serial somehow featured – in the same season; as the best that McCoy did. Remembrance Of The Daleks and Silver Nemesis. So there was really no excuse really, for adding this serial – to such a good season of showcase stories. The script had a burgeoning stab at political humour, in it but as usual – the execution let it down badly.
A lame duck, in an otherwise excellent 25th anniversary season.
Watch ‘The Happiness Patrol’ On Archive.org :